Tech Reluctance

One of the differences between teachers that consistently use technology in their classrooms and those that don’t is the reaction when things don’t go smoothly. Many teachers at my school and that I’ve had in trainings give up after something doesn’t work right now. They’ve decided to try something they’ve never done before – they start setting up the equipment, it doesn’t work as they intended, they call me or someone else to make it work, you try one thing (once they hadn’t plugged in the power cord on the hub – it was working within 1 minute of me walking in the room and they were done, forget it) – and often their reaction is that, “Well I won’t be doing this again until it works every time – and maybe not even then. I just don’t have time to have to tweak things or problem solve or learn more and the fact that this didn’t work right now really puts me off tech.”  Its not just me either, other teachers that use tech have the same story.

Part of the issue is that they want to use tech and have a really cool lesson, but spend next to zero time prepping the tech part of the lesson – they just want it to happen. We have had a wireless iBook lab at my school for 6 years and except myself and maybe 2 teachers – almost no one else uses it. I’ve done numerous trainings on using the lab, and I always stress how if you are going to use it with your class you probably want to plan a lesson from me to refresh your memory on its use and to hook up the wireless hub in your classroom (about 20 minutes). Also if it is the first time you have used the lab with your class you probably want to do a 30 minute lesson where you just teach the students how to take the computers out of the cart, turn them on, how to treat them, get on the internet and do a quick search and shut them down and put them away. I’ve had teachers right there say – “oh, never mind then, I just wanted my kids to do some quick research on polar bears – I was hoping to be done in 20 to 30 minutes tops.”

The thing that kills me is that these same teachers will come in on a Saturday and spend 4 hours copying and cutting stuff out and stapling. When we have students use any manipulative we have found that the first time you use it you probably want to give the students time to just play and get that somewhat out of their system – things usually go more smoothly then. But somehow that is only a good idea with inter-locking cubes not technology. Has anyone else out there found this to be true? I have my own thoughts on this, but I’d like to hear from others. Is this part of the culture that holds so many back from using tech and project based learning? What kinds of experiences have you had?
Learning is messy!

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3 Responses to Tech Reluctance

  1. June says:

    Thanks for the comment! I really loved this post, I’ve seen this happen so many times… I have had teachers come up to me and say “I really want to try this or this in my lesson!!!!!” And then when I say “Great, let’s meet and lesson plan it together and I can help you plan for the technology aspects…” I get met with blank stares and an immediate drop in energy… Basically faculty want the technology to just happen, and we (tech folks) have to figure out ways to push them to lesson plan *with* technology… I’ll keep thinking about this one…

  2. Jeff Utecht says:

    Hear you 100% loud and clear. You’re spot on with the time issue. Teachers just want it to work and they want it to work now and they don’t want to learn how to use it. “Just make it work.” We have a 1:1 Dana Wireless AlphaSmart program in our 4th grade. 6 teachers who have never been trained on how to use them or the power they could hold in the classroom. I told a teacher once they should take a Dana home and just play with it, get use to it, and see what it can and can’t do. The response was “I don’t have time for that.” We only do what we are made to do I fear. David Warlick once told me ‘As long as technology remains optional, some teachers will opt not to use it.’ That about sums it up. Until schools and principals start evaluating and sorry to use the word force teachers to use technology then there will be those that choose not to use it, not to learn it, and not allow if to affect their teaching. I hate it, but I’m afraid that’s the way it is.

  3. Sancy says:

    Great post Brian. Thanks for sharing.

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